A Breakthrough-2015 A Year At A Glance

I guess I’ll start with a heads up. This last post of the year is a quick review and recap of the ups and downs and “meh” moments from 2015. It’s a personal reflection, a public display of vulnerability, and most definitely not a “how to review your year and plan for the next” type of post. My hope is that through my personal experiences you gain some new insight and perspective. Enjoy lovely people!

one way

Image via http://madcrisimages.com/

As I’ve shared before in previous reviews, I center most of my intentions for the year around 6 areas or slices of life: Personal, Social, Spiritual, Physical, Professional, and Financial. I also usually have a word and/or theme for the year that gives me a focal point for all the desires, intentions, commitments and goals I set for the year.

My word for 2015 was: Breakthrough and My personal theme was: Go Get It

It took me awhile to see the gifts I’ve possessed all along but, I got it. I really embraced pieces of myself I’d been denying for so long, because I personally did not see the value in what I brought to the table in comparison to what I believed the world valued. That was an “Aha!” moment that opened me to receive what life would soon reveal…a gift is only a gift if you choose to accept it.

My breakthrough (a sudden, dramatic, and important discovery or development.) this year led me to make the decision to step into my Purpose in the role as a mental health and wellness advocate. To become a voice for women entrepreneurs with a history of mental health disorders.  We may feel “other” because we feel inadequate or flawed or quirky or complicated. We may feel alone even when surrounded by support systems. We may be afraid because we do not want to be stigmatize for being who we are despite our ability to totally rock our careers. I want to be there, I want to run this race, I want to carry the torch and find new paths or more effective ways to run the paths we’ve already chosen.

Deciding to do a non-academic based investigation on the possible correlation between mental illness or mental health disorders and entrepreneurship led me to begin working on my 1st book on the subject, which then triggered an interest in pursuing advanced studies over the course of the next few years. In essence, I’ve decided to put into motion what I started when I 1st went to Rutgers and received my BA in Sociology. 10 years later I came back home to my original love for social work. I realize this time around, that I have a passion for the administrative and research side of social work, and most importantly I discovered a strong passion to expose research-inspired and evidence-based psychological resilience principles and practices for business owners and entrepreneurs…without sounding like the dry-eyes commercial guy.

What this will all look like… well, I’m still piecing that together to be honest. But as a starting point this year I co-launched my heart-work project Love Yourself Love Your Business, a virtual summit for entrepreneurs to learn more about the importance of a commitment to self-love when building a passion for profit or heart-work business. Self-sabotage, stress, not charging what you’re worth because you are unsure of your value, not having the confidence to market yourself and tell the world about your business are some of the reasons why I knew that this summit was needed and I’m proud to say we had a great response and will be expanding our outreach and taking it to a new level in 2016. I also did my 1st Speaking engagement as a mental wellness advocate and I didn’t freak out although I did manage to knock everything inside the podium on to the floor (just making sure everyone was awake of course haha!). Next year I intend to team up with my long-term marketing assistance client Dr. Angela Clack a Coach and Psychotherapist to present a web show all about mental wellness. And I joined my local branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness NAMI  to be a part of something much larger than myself.

In the midst of all this I struggled with physical health issues which woke me up to finally tend to the much neglected self-care branch of my self-love tree. I went gluten-free for a month and committed to a strict low-acidity diet trying out recipes from this cookbook for people who have acid reflex issues and sensitive tummy issues. I lost about 20 pounds in that time just by changing up my diet and doing a lot of walking at the park with occasional yoga stretches and gym visits on a guest pass.  Honestly, I hated not being able to eat at restaurants like I used to, I hated the taste of gluten-free pancakes and got so fed up with not being able to eat things I love like onions, peppers, tomatoes, and drinking coffee that I pigged out on Thanksgiving giving myself a horrible gut attack in the process. Lesson learned. Making my signature lasagna dish for Christmas and not being able to eat it this year kind of sucked. But sleeping peacefully at night after enjoying small portions of some of my favorites was well worth it. I plan on incorporating much of the diet into my lifestyle going forward with subtle “cheat days” now that I’ve learned what keeps me from having attacks and what foods agree/disagree with me the most.

This diet led me to seek new connections because I needed to reach out to others who experienced similar issues to better understand how to cope with the changes in body and in seeking new connections I found myself exposed to new communities. Somehow I stumbled into an American Sign Language meetup group by accident and despite my lack of knowledge received a warm welcome from those in the deaf community. I found that having to learn a new language and being corrected when I goofed up or unintentionally committed a cultural ‘no-no’ out of sheer ignorance was quite humbling and gave me new perspective on the words empathy and compassion.

And while I realized that I needed to show others compassion, especially those closest to me, I realized yet again that I simply could not give what I didn’t have for myself. That by accepting myself for being perfectly imperfect I in turn was able to accept, forgive, and show compassion to others for the same. I’ll be taking these “gifts of imperfection” with me into 2016 and in the pursuit of living love out loud I wish you all a fulfilling and rewarding New Year!

Until Next Time…Peace!

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Something From “Nothing” Reflections on Herstory

storytime

Why do we love the story of the underdog? You know, that one really determined person who against all odds surpasses expectations and comes out a winner. What is it about that person that makes us want, so much so, to see them finally “make it.” That is up until they actually do, and continue to do so over and over again no longer an underdog but a full-fledged champion (same background, same story). And what is it about that very same person who had the nerve, guts, and glory to rise from the ashes and step into the spotlight of “oohs and ahhs” in turn recieve “have you forgotten where you came froms” and “who the heck do you think you ares”?

People are funny that way sometimes.

Let’s say you’re an artist and life is your canvas, you create and shape things, and color outside the proverbial lines from time to time. There will be some who love what you do, love what it represents to their existence, love that you are creating things, and maybe even love you. Then there will be others who fear those same things; it makes them uncomfortable when you don’t fit in with their comfortable. And fear makes people do things, things that make those on the receiving end of that fear have knee jerk reactions  and then the lyrics to “All Along the Watchtower” make perfect sense and March becomes Women’s History Month.

Life is interesting that way sometimes.

It was not too long ago that we as women had to rise out of the ashes while listening to the “who the heck do you think you ares” just to get the chance to vote. We’re still in the ring. Fighting everyday, sometimes as a collective, most times individually (and depending on the results that too becomes for the collective) having the nerve, guts, and glory to show up to our own lives, making champions over circumstances, and pointed fingers telling us that we forgot where we came from and to stay in our place. Leaning in or demanding that we be accepted and respected if we choose to lean out or lean back, or lean to the side…

And when I think on all of this and how it applies to ordinary life and the way I’m choosing to live it. I think, screw it! Why ask for permission? May as well be myself, may as well create my own luck, may as well let the naysayers keep on yapping. I’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain. Herstory and the many herstories before has taught me that that’s when real change begins.

 

Until next time…Peace!

 

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What Comes After Discovering Purpose? (A 2014 Reflection)

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“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how” – Nietzche

I’m going to do this review slightly different than my quarterly reviews. Since I’ve already broken down the happenings of each individual slice in life throughout this year, I wanted to do more of a big picture summary this time around.

My Word for 2014 was Purpose and my theme was Choose to Dance.

When the word Purpose hit my heart during last year’s reflections, I can’t say that I wasn’t already hip to the game plan on what my purpose was. I was running circles around in my brain on what comes after discovering your purpose. Apparently, I needed to gain more clarity around it so I could better align it with my work because well… who doesn’t want to make a living actually doing what they’re called to do in this lifetime?

What I didn’t comprehend at the beginning of the year, was that “Choose to Dance” would be the perfect theme to go along with a year focused on Purpose because it is exactly how you embrace what you’ve discovered. You choose Purpose over and over while creating its rhythm and letting it move you forward through life.

When I came across this post and read: Your purpose is a culmination of moments in your life where you are creating sacred places. This simply translates into knowing that you are surrounded by purpose. I knew I was onto something.

For me, my intention was create more purpose through 3 avenues: Alignment, Integration, and Movement. I kept that in mind when I set goals under all 6 slices life this year: personal, social, physical, spiritual, professional, and financial. I kept it in mind when I unapologetically shifted those goals several times throughout the year, while simultaneously forgiving myself when I sometimes did so out of fear. (If you want to know what they were and the adjustments I made just read my personal archives.)

Here’s the thing, we all know that life can run smoothly and then suddenly spiral out of control, so we can choose to crash and burn believing that we are not enough or we can be like the Phoenix and rise out of the ashes (the circumstances, the stereotypes, the ignorance, etc) through our actions, our activation time, and claim our purpose over and over again. What’s more, is that purpose evolves.

Zen Habits hit the nail on the head with this:

Our external purpose changes to reflect our inner. Purposes are not permanent. Nothing is. Stop looking for something to do for the rest of your life – it might be possible to find something that lasts forever; but most likely it will simply change in accordance with your internal state and needs.

In the end, I pursued everything I wanted while my true intentions revealed themselves through prioritization and follow-through to a self-defined finish line. I’ve concluded that by far this has truly been an Astonishing and Purposeful year.

See you all in 2015 : )

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Not Alone

stonesThere are so many things I don’t want that I can’t remember what I want.

I couldn’t help but to chuckle at those words. In one line, that pretty summed up the raw emotions I’ve been feeling these past two weeks. More than just a case of the blehs I was in a serious haze not sure how I got there, and not entirely certain how to get out of it.

Didn’t I just activate Moon, my inner superheroine? Was this a form of self-sabotage once again? I excited myself so much about the possibilities of really feeling free to be me only to second guess everything I just laid on the table.

And so, I did what any self-respecting bookworm does for escape…I read.  It was the only thing I had enough motivation to do. I started reading my newest collection of short stories by Audrey and found immediate relief in the line above.  I wanted to read more, get lost somewhere in beautifully written prose so I could find my happy place and get out of my funk. And I swear, it doesn’t seem like anyone else goes through these funks but me. Right? Right!

I mean I know my why, I didn’t have any naysayers all up in my grill trying to throw me in a whirlwind. Seriously, there wasn’t enough positive psychology in the world to get me back in my game as soon as I wanted to be. And once I realized that that no matter how much I pushed or pulled, whatever it was I was going through, I needed to go through it.

It was time to be silent and listen.

In that silence, certain slices of life that I admittedly wasn’t putting as much tlc in to came front and center. By burying myself in work, I slowly started to creep into completely neglecting…me. Journal?  Prayer? Exercise? huh? what? Enter a rebellion of sorts from my heart. Just that fast it’s so easy to get caught up in the fast pace of everything around you, trying to keep up with the changes, trying to stay ahead of the game… Work/Life Balance feels difficult to achieve. The whole idea of a perfectly balanced scale doesn’t seem realistic at all to me and so I strive for Work/Life Integration. But the process to get to even that sacred place (if it does truly exist) is work in and of itself(and I don’t mean work with a negative connotation).

I’m not exactly sure what point I was trying to make when I started this post (Just keeping it real with you all) but a few things ran across my mind.

1) If you’re feeling like you have a laundry list of “don’t wants” and it’s sucking you dry then it’s time to start a daily practice of gratitude. Writing something, anything about the good and simple things that made your day…worth it, gets you in a better head space period.

2) Don’t settle for good enough. (Take that however you wish).

3) You are not alone. You’re not the only one who gets overwhelmed, and suddenly becomes frozen in the midst of change, you’re not the only one who becomes afraid of tomorrow hoping you can live up to its expectations, you’re not the only one who second guesses themselves, you’re not the only one who fails, you’re not the only one who wonders if you’re the only one who feels the way you feel…and again from my heart to yours, You are not alone.

 

Until next time…

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Happy New Year! A Review and Some Aspirations

Happy New Year! I’m back from my blogcation and ready to jump right in!

So, I decided to switch up my review format since it’s a full year review rather than a quarter review, and I used the template I found over on the Happy Black Woman site.

Lessons Learned In 2013

What was the most valuable lesson I learned this year?

This past year, I’ve learned to trust in my abilities, to believe that I am enough, and to take everything I experience as another growth opportunity. But, if I had to summarize my most valuable lesson it would have to be this:

“Dreams come a size too big so that we can grow into them.”  – Josie Bisset

What was the best book, song and/or movie I discovered (or rediscovered) this year?

I’d have to say that Get Clients Now was my best book discovery this year. (Just click the link for the book review I did on it.)

What was the best city, state or country I discovered (or rediscovered) this year?

This year I spent more time in Philadelphia  than I ever have (and I’ve lived right across the bridge pretty much my whole life) and I really loved the city (grateful to come back home to my burb right outside it though) but seriously I love the energy, diversity, and culture of the city. From Dragon Boat races, to cultural festivals at Penn’s Landing, to museum and art gallery visits to firework shows on top of center city rooftops, to delicious cheese steaks and other yummy treats from China Town; I really enjoyed these aspects of Philly.

boatrace   philly

 

What was the biggest personal milestone I reached this year? (these can be goals you reached in the areas of lifestyle & fun, money & finances, health & wellness, family & friends, love & romance or personal growth & spirituality)

I might sound like a broken record here but seriously, I have to say I am really proud of the progress I made in confidence building department. I’ve always struggled with confidence, and working on building confidence was something deeply implanted in my heart.  So, in my determination to really believe in my awesomesauce, my word for 2013 was Confidence. I did public speaking engagements (I hate public speaking), sang solo in front of random strangers, started mentoring teen girls, met some amazing, (and I mean amazing) women business leaders and most importantly I stood my ground and stayed focused on my path.

There were no apologies for staying true to the woman I am growing to love more and more every time I look at her in the mirror. There was also no going back on my desire to be location-independent business owner who provides a darn good service to other location-independent business owners. This was very special part of my confidence milestone to me because it felt like everyone who I wanted so desperately to support me had decided my journey to success wasn’t fast enough for them and in their own way had written me off. A huge part of confidence building is being decisive and comfortable enough in your own skin to know what is right for you regardless of what anyone else think or feels is best for you. I mean, who knows you better than yourself?

Melinda Emerson Smallbiz Lady

Melinda Emerson aka Smallbiz Lady

Andrea Vahl

Andrea Vahl aka Grandma Mary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

fusion tour

Women Are Gamechangers Fusion Tour Philadelphia

Darnyelle Jervey

Darnyelle Jervey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What professional accomplishments (at work or in my business) am I most proud of this year?

I was very proud of the progress I’ve made this past year with A & D Media.  I like how it’s transforming yet remaining committed to what I intended it to be despite pressures to go places with it I didn’t desire. I was very excited when one of the leading south jersey magazines  reached out to me for an interview on social media as it related to my fellow south jersey business owners, (I’m in the March 2013 issue). What an honor to have my 2 cents written on the same page along side men and women marketers from very well-known and respected companies.

But you know, I’d have to say the greatest accomplishment and biggest compliment I received this year was repeat business from my awesome clients. What an honor!

Looking forward towards 2014

 

What do I deserve more of in 2014? 

There’s a lot I could say for this one so I’ll keep it cutesy this time around and say I deserve more trips to a Massage Therapist, (why not).

What 3 personal milestones do I most want to reach in the coming year? (these can be goals in the areas of lifestyle & fun, money & finances, health & wellness, family & friends, love & romance or personal growth & spirituality)

  1. Move to New apartment in a New town
  2. Self-Publish my 1st book which is a collection of poetry
  3. Trip to Kenya with my partner in Heartwork (more to come on this one)

What 3 professional accomplishments do I most want to see for myself next year? (these can be goals in the area of career & work for my job and/or business)

  1. Grow my team by partnering with 2-3 more highly-skilled virtual assistants (Which means I’ll have to have plenty of work to give them.)
  2. Accomplish my income goals for the year
  3. Create my 1st opt-in offer so I can grow my email list

What do I want to learn in 2014?

Again, I could go on and on with this so I’ll choose one thing: How to make sweet potato bread. (Ooh so good!)

What do I want to cross off of my “bucket list” in 2014?

Volunteer trip to Africa is the big one this year

Finally, My Theme for 2014

My word for 2014 is Purpose.  Now that I’ve finally created my very 1st vision board,  my path is so much clearer, (and it scares the crap out of me). So, this year is about truly walking in purpose, on purpose, and with purpose. And my theme is Choose To Dance (You know, because if I get the choice to sit it out or dance, I’m going to dance).

Enough about me! Tell me my friend, what have you been up to and where are you headed in 2014?